Police investigate homophobic assault at knifepoint in the center of Madrid

Eight hooded assailants attacked a 20-year-old on Sunday afternoon while shouting insults, according to the victim’s account

A file photo of a protest in Madrid against homophobic attacks.
A file photo of a protest in Madrid against homophobic attacks.samuel sánchez
P. Nagovitch P. Segura C. A. Brascia
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A group of hooded assailants is alleged to have attacked a young gay man on Sunday afternoon in the center of Madrid. The 20-year-old reported being attacked by the men in the entrance to his apartment block, in the Malasaña neighborhood, as was initially reported by Spanish daily eldiario.es and later confirmed to EL PAÍS by police sources. The group shouted insults such as “maricón” (faggot), and cut him with a knife, even carving that word into one of his buttocks with the weapon. The police are investigating the case as a hate crime.

A police spokesperson explained that the young man was returning home at 5.15pm when eight people “with their faces covered ran and cornered him,” and managed to follow him into the building entrance where they cornered him, insulted him and threatened him with a knife.

According to his account of the incident, insults such as “shiteater” and “disgusting” were also aimed at him. His lip was cut by the weapon, as well as the aforementioned injury to his buttock. The victim has filed a report at a police station in the center of the capital city.

Having taken place during the day and by hooded assailants, this case is notable. “This is the first assault of this kind that we have heard of,” the police spokesperson stated. Investigators are checking the security cameras in the area and taking statements from the young victim in a bid to identify and locate the group.

Rubén López, coordinator of the Madrid Observatory against LGTBphobia, said that he could not believe what had happened. “We’re in a state of shock,” he said. “First we thought that this could not just be homophobia, and had to be a settling of scores, something more. But it appears that it was. If this is so, it’s terrible, it’s the toughest thing I’ve seen in Madrid in my six years at the observatory and my 17 years as an activist.” He added that the injuries were focused on parts of the body related to gay sexuality. “This message of hatred is awful, vicious.”

According to the observatory, there have been 103 homophobic assaults so far this year in Madrid. “The cases have fallen, but the figure is not real, because the assaults usually take place at night and when out drinking, and right now we are not going out,” he explained, in reference to coronavirus restrictions.

“Hatred has no place in our society,” wrote Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez on Twitter about the attack. “I roundly condemn this homophobic attack. We will not allow this. We will continue to work for an open and diverse country, where no one has to be afraid for who they are.”

This latest assault comes just a few months after the killing of Samuel Luiz, a young man from A Coruña who was beaten to death by a group in the early hours of the morning. He was also the subject of homophobic insults. This incident sparked a wave of indignation among the LGBTQ+ communities in Spain, prompting demonstrations in a number of cities.

Statistics from the Interior Ministry show that in the first six months of 2021, the National Police and Civil Guard have received 610 reports for hate crimes, 9.3% more than in the same period in 2019, when there were 558 such incidents. That had been a record high until now, since the current series on hate crimes began in 2014.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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